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View Full Version : Which Alcatraz swim



long.pdx
January 11th, 2012, 02:29 PM
I am from Portland Oregon and want to do an Alcatraz swim event. Not knowing the events and their seem to be many I wanted any help I could get in choosing one. From what I saw on the web the shark fest seems to be a main event. I figure I am am going to come down from Portland it should be a big event and not a club outing. Any input on this would be very much appreciated.
Thanks.

sfbayswimmer
January 11th, 2012, 04:42 PM
The South End Invitational is also excellent - they feed you a big meal afterwards and the water support is outstanding. It's scheduled Sept 8th - the month when summer finally arrives in San Francisco. You can also check out the Alcatraz Challenge Aquathlon & Swim put on by Tri-California - a very professionally run event (they put on the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon for nearly 15 years).

djacks
January 11th, 2012, 04:54 PM
I agree with the South End Rowing Club event. Great time, well organized, and Anchor Steam with breakfast afterwards!

swimthegoodfight
January 12th, 2012, 01:32 AM
sharkfest will have clam chowder post-race... i will look into the rowing club's invitational.

my advice is to get into the water quickly and to the race start if you're in the sharkfest swim. the race start will begin quickly after all swimmers are in the water... not when swimmers at the start, i.e. a mass of kayaks

E=H2O
January 12th, 2012, 06:58 AM
Hi Mathew

I live in Lake Oswego and have done a number of swims in the Bay with different organizations. I have not done the South End Invitational, so i can't add anything to that. The first swim I did was the Accenture Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. The swim was my first cold water swim in years. It was of course a mob scene (1,500 athletes), but i thought the whole event was very well run. I don't know anything about their swim-only events. I did an Alcatraz Swim with Pedro's Water World that was well run and of a moderate size. Pedro's are notoriously more expensive than others. I also did an Aquatic Park to Alcatraz and back to AQ with Pedro (Touch & Go). It was a small group and one of my favorite swims. I just like starting and finishing on a beach Again, a bit on the pricy side. I would do that again - or at least after I do the Swim Around the Rock. I have also done Bob Roper's Golden Gate to Bay Bridge swim. I love this course, just a whole lot of fun and reasonably priced. I had signed up to do the B2B with Pedro last year but had to return home early so I missed it - very disappointed. I had signed up in December of the prior year so the price was very reasonable (but I had to forfeit it). I have also done 2 swims with Leslie Thomas of Swim Art. First a disclosure: Leslie coached me across the Catalina Channel this summer, and will play the same role for MIMS this year and EC in 2013. You might say I have a bias. The first one was Golden gate to Aquatic Park in March. It was set up by chaos. She also guided me on an 11 mile Golden gate to (almost) Hunters Point. I loved the atmosphere and felt it was very well run. Finally, I almost used Gary Emich of Lanelines to Shorelines. He was going to pilot me on a double crossing of the Golden Gate. The weather was not cooperating so I canned it before we left the dock. I hope to make it next year. I went with Gary for that swim because I was told by Leslie Thomas that he knew the tides and currents the best and was the one that could get me across. The tides are tricky, and the boat traffic heavy. I believe he runs smaller groups. I contacted pedro as well but he said it was not a swim he wanted to get involved with.

So you should first ask yourself how big a group do I want to start with, When you contact them, are they responsive? How many swimmers will be in the water and how many swim boats will there be. Ask what kinds of surprises you might run into (there always a couple). If you are swimming naked you will be in a small minority so ask if there are separate awards for naked swimmers.

As for who has the best support I couldn't tell you. I jump in, swim like hell and if I get off course a kayaker magically appears and gets me redirected. Other than that I am completely oblivious to what is going on around me. Frankly if you are an experienced open Water Swimmer, and can handle the cold, you wont have any problems. Do it for the sheer fun. The fun is the same for all the swims: Great Fun!

fatboy
January 12th, 2012, 02:03 PM
I have done the Alcatraz Sharkfest twice. Both times it was well organized and fun. Seemed to be plenty of kayak and boat support. I have not done the South End Rowing Club swim but several people at the Sharkfest swims told me that it was great.

Good luck and have fun!

ChrisM
January 13th, 2012, 05:57 PM
I've done the Sharkfest, the Invitational, and the Alcatraz Challenge Swim/run. Sharkfest and Inv. swim into Aquatic Park which is basically right across from Alcatraz, so you are really swimming "across" the outgoing current. The opnening is a smaller target to shoot for, so if you aim too far right you have to swim upstream (done that) or too far left swim downstream along the wall (done that too :) )

The Inv. gives access to the south end rowing clubm, but the sharkfest has sharks on the t shirts. Both were run very well I thought. In both races people got pretty far spread out so there were a few times I felt like I was alone (I wasn't)

The Alcatraz challenge swims down to the beach at Crissy Field, so it's a little longer but is much more "with" the current. You're funneled to the beach so it feels as if many more people and kayaks are around you.

If you are a runner, the Alc. Challenge swim /run is a great race

orca1946
January 14th, 2012, 02:43 PM
What is the water temp. that time of the year.:chillpill::chillpill:

E=H2O
January 14th, 2012, 03:14 PM
57 to 59

philoswimmer
January 14th, 2012, 08:09 PM
I don't recommend the "Swim with the Centurians" race. They were very nice and there were a lot of safety craft, but they started the race before everyone was off the boat! (without telling us they were going to do that). Grr.

swimthegoodfight
January 15th, 2012, 10:53 AM
sharkfest does not wait for everyone to swim to the start area... cannot say i blame them for a quick start. threading low 60s water without a wetsuit is no one's idea of a good time.

water temperature can range a fair amount for these swims and the sharkfest might be in june, july or august! you probably should see what water temperatures are doing leading up to your swim... hoping for > 66 F is like counting on winning the lottery.

one degree in the low 60s is not equal to one degree in the low 70s - as water temperatures approach the 50s they transform to being log-based :)

E=H2O
January 15th, 2012, 12:11 PM
I had the same experience with Swim with the Centurions in 2010. I think if they had told everyone who was swimming without wetsuits to stand by a specific side of the boat it would have helped. I moved to the wrong side - and I was not alone. All the swimmers W/S were great and moved out of the way. Maybe they were afraid of catching a bit of crazy from us. The event was billed as a race and they should of had a better organized start. They could have asked the no-wetsuit people who were there to swim and not race to let the other on-wetsuit ahead of them.

As for water in the 60 - In the dozen times I have swam in the bay, including 3 Alcatraz, a Bridge to Bridge, a GGB to Aquatic Park and a GG bridge to Hunters Point, the only time I ever swam in 60+ water was after I passed the Bay Bridge on the way to Hunters Point. I don't live there, but my experience is that you'd be hard pressed to find a day where the water was 60, and when it reaches that temperature they break out cold beer at the South End Rowing Club.

Check here for historical data:

http://www.wunderground.com/MAR/buoy/2011/7/7/FTPC1.html?graphtype=2

philoswimmer
January 15th, 2012, 12:29 PM
I had the same experience with Swim with the Centurions in 2010. I think if they had told everyone who was swimming without wetsuits to stand by a specific side of the boat it would have helped. I moved to the wrong side - and I was not alone. All the swimmers W/S were great and moved out of the way. Maybe they were afraid of catching a bit of crazy from us. The event was billed as a race and they should of had a better organized start. They could have asked the no-wetsuit people who were there to swim and not race to let the other on-wetsuit ahead of them.

Yep, that was the same year that I did it. What gets me is that 2010 was not the first year that they put on the race -- it was their eighth -- so they should have known better, it seems to me. They did say they wanted participants to just enjoy the experience, that times were different depending on currents, etc. Ok, then, why give out timers at all, and why award places? I wouldn't have placed anyway, but I was frustrated not even knowing what my real time was, since the race had been going on for a number of minutes before I was able to get off the boat. Again, if they'd just organized and announced better, as E=H2O says, then there would not have been an issue.

Ken Classen
January 15th, 2012, 12:52 PM
I did the Alcatraz Challenge swim only as a skin in 2009, finish was at Chrissy Field. It was a chip timed race, your race didn't start until you stood on the activation pad at one of two exits on the boat. You were given about 10-minute period to exit the boat, skins and suits swam together. I chose to exit at the end, after listening to some veterans of the race and it was much more mellow hanging out on the top deck of the ferry as many athletes were crowded near the exits in an effort to get off fast. The strategy worked as all those swimmers ahead of me worked like a string navigation buoys in front of me. I had an excellent race and beat many college swimmers younger then myself and in wet-suits who no doubt would have beaten me in the pool.

orca1946
January 17th, 2012, 01:45 PM
I swam the Big Shoulders in Chicago this summer in water that was 64 at the start so 57-59 would be cooler but dooable!

E=H2O
January 23rd, 2012, 12:28 AM
When I did Escape from Alcatraz Tri I had just gotten back into swimming. The finish was also at Crissy Field and the 1600 people all had chips on. I made a mistake of grossly underestimating how well I was swimming (or grossly overestimating everybody else's ability). I sighted on the building they recommended for middle of the pack people and spent the whole time swimming alone up-current from everyone else. A lot of people just followed the person in front of them, and a good number ended up being dragged past the get out point by the current. Be wary of who you follow.